The Neighborhood Literacy Center

It began with a dream… From a window in my house, I see a box truck speeding up my street and a young black male rising from the floorboard and yelling to me, “Help us, Mr. Peters!”  After pondering this for a while, God dropped it in my heart to start a Reading Club for children.  

Living the dream… We began in our home with one child from the neighborhood coming each Wednesday for pizza and reading.  We soon added more children until we had 10 regulars.  After that, the children began to invite their friends and we grew to as many as 46 before we moved to a larger facility.

Our eyes were opened to the need… It didn’t take long for us to realize that many of these children needed more help than we could give them once a week.  We began to gather some statistics…


  • A child in poverty not reading at grade level by 3rd grade is 13 times more likely to drop out of school than someone who is.
  • Reading is fundamental – Up to 3rd grade, a child is learning to read.  After that, it’s about reading in order to learn.
  • For the 2022 school year, the on-time graduation rate for Richmond Public Schools was 74%
  • The dropout rate in RPS for the same year was 20%
  • Reading SOL pass rate was 43% for 3rd grade and 50% for 5th grade


Trauma… Add trauma to this and it only exacerbates the problem.  The CDC has done some wonderful research on Adverse Childhood Experiences.   For more information, see CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study 

  • ACE’s cover 3 areas, Abuse, Neglect, and Household dysfunction.  As the ACE score for a child goes up, the potential negative outcomes (addiction, incarceration, disease, early death) go up exponentially.  
  • The  Children we work with are all experiencing some level of poverty and most of them have significant levels of trauma.

With this overwhelming need staring us squarely in the face, we felt led to start a Literacy Center focused on this demographic. We currently meet on Tuesday and Thursday from 3-5 PM. We have intentionally started with a small number of children so that we can create a model that is effective, sustainable, and reproducible.

Opportunities to help…

  • Team members for Tuesdays or Thursdays 3:00-5:00 p.m.
    Reading with a child, doing reinforcement activities from their reading lesson 
  • Support partners
    Monthly financial partnership or a single gift to help fund our budget. There is also the opportunity for providing weekly incentives (such as a trip to McD’s) after a good week or helping supply a Literacy Center Store where LC Points (earned for good work) can be spent on fun items.
  • Prayer partners
    We believe that prayer is vital to the success of this work.  We welcome your prayer commitment for the children and the team.